Seawater Greenhouse growing veggies in the desert

The seawater greenhouse developed by UK-based Seawater Greenhouse is a low-cost solution for year-round crop production in some of the world’s hottest and driest regions. It does this using seawater and sunlight. The technology imitates natural processes, helping to restore the environment while significantly reducing the operating costs of greenhouse horticulture.

The first project was in Tererife, Spain, in 1992 where a prototype was built in England and shipped to Spain. This was a pilot project, which validated the concept and demonstrated the potential for other arid regions.

In 2000 another greenhouse was built in Abu Dhabi to try out the concept in a different climate, where humidity is higher than in Spain. Again, this was a success. The greenhouse provides a cooler climate that enables crops to be grown year-round, even in the extreme heat of the summer months. It also allows for the reclamation of salt-infected land by not relying, at all, on groundwater resources. It is a major benefit to local agriculture.

Seawater Greenhouse is now nearing completion of a new greenhouse to tame the harsh Australian outback. The greenhouse uses a natural distillation process to turn seawater, pumped from the nearby Spencer Gulf by solar powered pumps, to grow tomatoes hydroponically. The 2500m² greenhouse is capable of producing 100% of the energy needed, but also has a back-up power system in case of malfunction. The first crop will be ready to harvest in October.

The company will build two further greenhouses on this site, a 2 ha greenhouse is planned for early next year and a 10 ha greenhouse will be built in 2012. The tomatoes produced will at first be sold on the local market, and as production increases they will be sold nationally. Philipp Saumweber, Seawater Greenhouse Managing Director, said that the purpose of the greenhouses was to supply the domestic market in Australia.

Besides the production of tomatoes, the site will also grow citrus fruit on land alongside the greenhouses, which will be irrigated using desalinated water. Philipp said that the soil beneath the sand is good. Gourmet sea salt will also be produced as a by-product of this system.

For further information contact:
Seawater Greenhouse (Australia) Pty Ltd, Section 680 National Hwy A1,
Winninowie, SA, 5710
Fax: +61 8 8643-6178

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